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RTX's Engine Recall Impacts Airbus A320neo Fleet: A Costly Challenge

In a recent development that sent shockwaves through the aviation industry, aerospace supplier RTX disclosed that approximately 350 Airbus A320neo aircraft will remain grounded until 2026. This decision stems from a necessary recall of Pratt & Whitney's GTF engines to conduct crucial quality inspections.

The issue at the heart of this recall is a material defect that, if left unaddressed, could lead to the cracking of vital engine components. RTX had initially flagged this concern back in July. However, the situation has escalated, and the company now anticipates that it will have to withdraw and inspect between 600 to 700 engines. This action comes with a hefty price tag, as RTX expects to bear a charge of $3 billion during the third quarter. It's a substantial financial hit for a company of RTX's stature, formerly known as Raytheon.

The ripple effect of this engine recall is being felt across the aviation landscape, with European low-cost airline Wizz Air already estimating a 10% capacity reduction for the latter half of 2024 due to this unforeseen issue.

Initially, RTX's CEO, Greg Hayes, had projected that the repair works would take a mere 60 days per engine. However, the situation has proven to be far more complex than anticipated. Now, the engine repairs are expected to stretch out over a daunting 300-day timeline per engine. Most of these engine recalls are slated for 2023 and early 2024, setting the stage for substantial operational disruptions.

This latest challenge is yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of Pratt & Whitney's GTF engine. This engine model has faced numerous setbacks that have prompted airlines to ground their aircraft, causing disruptions and financial strain.

The financial toll of this issue on RTX is substantial, with an estimated impact of up to $3.5 billion in pre-tax earnings anticipated over the coming years. The core problem revolves around a "rare condition" related to the metallic powder used in manufacturing engine parts, including high-pressure turbine disks and high-pressure compressor disks. This condition has the potential to give rise to microcracks and fatigue, compromising engine safety.

In response, RTX plans to release a service bulletin within the next 60 days. This bulletin will outline a comprehensive inspection protocol for high-pressure turbine disks and compressor disks, with a focus on replacing as many affected components as possible during scheduled shop visits. This proactive approach aims to mitigate further disruptions and ensure the safety and reliability of aircraft powered by these engines.

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